Substituting low-calorie sweeteners for sugar in your recipes can greatly reduce the number of calories. Here’s how to choose the right sweetener for the food or beverage you’re making.
Entries tagged with: weight loss
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When you bite into a chili pepper, you probably think hot, not healthy. But that heat is tied to one of the pepper's health benefits. Learn what makes the pepper a nutritional star.
Can eating a late night meal or snack cause you to gain weight? Our Healthy Skeptic weighs in.
If you've recently eaten at Panera Bread, a 50-year-old restaurant chain with more than 1,400 locations, you may have noticed the calorie counts on the chain's menu. Some of the information could cause your jaw to drop:
• 430 calories fro a cinnamon crunch bagel
• 720 calories for a Smokehouse Turkey panini
• 1040 calories for a Italian Combo sandwich
If the fact that one sandwich can have 1040 calories (not including the drink and potato chips) seems shocking, get used to being shocked. The new health care reform law will require restaurants to own up to the calorie counts of the food on their menus. Panera is just ahead of the curve.
A few municipalitiesmost notably New York Cityalready require restaurants to display some nutritional data on their menus, an effort to educate consumers and allow them to make healthier eating decisions.
So far, the evidence is mixed as to whether menu calories will make a difference in eating habits. In New York, researchers found that people weren't ordering less calorie-laden foods from restaurants but they were visiting cafes less oftenwhich could be a sign of calorie-conscious decision making or the bad economy.
Some people are glad to see calorie counts: It makes it easier to eat out with diabetes or stick to a weight-loss diet.
But calories don't tell the whole story about nutrition. In fact, restaurants need to provide much more information before consumers can make a true "healthy" choice.
For example, some salads may have more calories than a cheeseburger. But that doesn't make the burger a healthier pick. The salad may have has less saturated fat and sodium, along with more fiber and nutrients.
Restaurants, already bristling at putting calorie counts on their menus, aren't likely to voluntarily add information about saturated fat, sodium or dietary fiber. But as a consumer you can still use the calorie information to make good eating decisions. Here's how:
1. Make an educated guess as to where the calories are coming from. Not all high-calorie foods are created equal. Some fruits, for example, are high in calories but contain important nutrients. A salad could get a lot of their calories from added fruit. On a hamburger, the calories are coming from the bun, the condiments and all the unhealthy saturated fat.
2. Cut the calories in half by reducing portion size. Restaurants often serve gigantic portions. Either order a smaller serving (the half-sized Italian Combo sandwich at Panera Bread only has 570 calories) or ask the restaurant to put half your order in a take out box. Find more tips on how to eat out without gaining weight.
3. Use common sense when comparing items. You don't have to be a registered dietitian to know that green leafy vegetables are better for you than a burger and fries, even if the salad has more calories. Salads become nutritional hazards when you add lots of toppings and creamy dressings. But you can make a restaurant salad healthier by opting for a vinaigrette and skipping the croutons and cheese.
Finally, you can learn more about a restaurant's menu before you dine. Many big chain restaurants put their nutritional information online. As Everwell's registered dietitian says, the more you know, the more you can eat.
Related Links:How to dine out on a diet
A few years ago I applied for a job with a fire department near our home. Like most bureaucratic jobs, there was a written test and a pre-qualifying drug screening. But there was also a brutal physical testa 10-minute obstacle course simulating common firefighting tasks.
Among the obstacles: Dragging a 165-pound dummy 70 feet around a turn. Carrying heavy equipment to and from a simulated fire truck. Forceable entry with a 10-pound sledgehammer.
Although these tasks aren't difficult, they come after the test's hardest challenge: Three minutes and 20 seconds on a stair simulator wearing 75 pounds of weights. More than 75 percent of candidates fail the stair test and never get to the other obstacles.
According to the chief of the state fire training facility, it isn't the physical part that causes most people to fail. It's the mental part.
Candidates are disqualified for falling or dismounting, and you're not allowed to grasp the railings for balance. Worse, the tester only speaks when you start the test and 10 seconds before the test is over. You have no idea how long you've been on the apparatus.
I prepped for six months for my test, spending a substantial amount of time on a Stairmaster at my local YMCA. I ran, I lifted weights, I swam, I crosstrained. I wasn't in the best shape in my life, but I was close.
Still, standing in line waiting for the test to begin, I knew I was going to fail. I was one of the oldest and portliest candidates in line. The guy immediately in front of me looked like an NFL linebackerall muscle. He lasted less than two minutes before falling off.
In fact no one made it past the stair test before I put my first step down. As the machine cranked stair after stair underneath me, doubt overwhelmed me. I was not strong enough. I was too old. My mind fought a pitched battle between what should have knownthree minutes wasn't that long considering all my trainingand what was certainI can't do this. I was losing the battle and started to step off.
"You have 10 seconds left," the tester announced.
Suddenly the argument in my head was over and I knew I could finishI could do 10 seconds on one leg. In fact, once the stair test was over I flew through the rest of the obstacles. I got the job.
Even though I didn't accept the position, I learned something valuable from the application process: Many of the physical challenges in my life are actually mental. A steep hill, an achy muscle or a cold morning can throw me off my exercise routine and keep me from achieving my goals.
But every time I come across those challenges, I ignore the argument in my head and hear, instead, "You have ten seconds left." I smile and move on.
Want to keep from gaining weight as you age? You may need to get as much as 60 minutes of exercise every day. Here's how to sneak it in.
Thanks to processed food, most of us get too much sugar. Here’s how to spot added sugar on food labels.
Soups, salads and other foods that are high in fiber and water can make you feel fuller and help you lose weight.
Nutrition coach Rovenia “Dr. Ro” Brock comes to the rescue of a detective who’s been investigating too many fast food restaurants.
Dining out with a dietitian is a bit like being behind the wheel of a car with a driver's ed instructor in the back seat. The pressure's on to make a good impression. While the burger and fries may be calling your name, you probably end up going for the grilled fish and steamed veggies. It's far less likely to raise eyebrows.
In her blog, Everwell's registered dietitian Carolyn O'Neil describes a recent meal with a group of fellow nutrition experts. She writes that "there were impassioned pleas for splitting entrees, sauce on the side, spinach steamed not creamed, salads sans croutons, and probing questions about how much oil is brushed on the broiled fish."
For Carolyn, the experience wasn't intimidating as it would be for most of us non-dietitians. But it did provide an opportunity to pick up some tricks for eating out on a diet. Here are five that she shares:
1. Start with soups that aren't creamy. They're usually low in calories and help fill you up.
2. Ask the wait staff to remove, or better yet, never bring free foods such as bread and chips to the table. Otherwise, you can consume hundreds of calories before you even get your main dish.
3. Choose only one starch. If you want the bread, skip the potato. If you want the chips, skip the rice and beans.
4. Never assume grilled, baked, or broiled means without butter or oil. Always ask questions of the wait staff. Most chefs add extra butter even when not necessary.
5. Share an entrée or ask the server to put half your meal in a to-go container.
For advice from Carolyn on eating healthfully at fast food restaurants, check out this video.
Resolved to get healthier in 2010? If so, good for you. Of course, the big challenge with any resolution is following through. When it comes to health resolutions, there's another one: making sure you're following sound advice.
Too often, the health advice we get is filled with hype, half-truths, and spin. While we think we're helping ourselves, our efforts may actually be wasting time and money, and doing little to promote our health. They may even cause harm.
Here are some pitfalls to avoid for three common resolutions.
1. LOSE WEIGHT
We're bombarded with ads for weight loss plans that promise dramatic results, and bookstore shelves bulge with guides that offer all kinds of "secrets" to help us shed those unwanted pounds. The sad reality is that there are no magic bullets for weight loss, and over the long term, dieting rarely works. About 95 percent of dieters eventually regain lost weight.
One reason is that most diets leave us feeling deprived, and we fall back on our old eating habits. Another is genetics. No matter how much they diet, people prone to be heavier are unlikely to become skinny, and even if they do shrink substantially, their bodies eventually return to a higher weight. (Just ask Oprah.) This doesn't mean we're completely powerless regarding our weight, just that there are limits to how much we can control.
If you've tried and failed at counting calories, cutting out carbs, or combining foods, consider a different approach: focus on eating healthfully (meaning more fruits, veggies, and whole grains, and less junk food) and getting more physical activity. Unlike many diet plans, this method offers no guarantees to melt away pounds quickly. But it will make you healthier, give you more energy, and help you feel better.
2. EAT BETTER
Every day, it seems we hear about another food that we're supposed to eat to ward off illness. Acai berries, pomegranate juice, green tea, dark chocolate, yogurt, garlic, tomatoes. The list goes on and on. While there's nothing wrong with most of these foods–indeed many are quite healthful–the claims for them tend to be overblown.
In recent years, there's been an explosion of research on all kinds of constituents in superfoods–everything from alpha-linolenic acid to zeaxanthin. Though this line of inquiry is interesting scientifically, it's still in its infancy. Because foods contain multiple nutrients, which may interact with one another and with other foods to affect our bodies in a myriad of ways, teasing out the precise effects of a single constituent in one food is tricky, to say the least. But that hasn't stopped superfood promoters from pushing the misleading idea that specific foods, in isolation, are proven to keep us healthy.
While it's tempting to believe that tossing some blueberries into a cup of ice cream will keep heart disease at bay, what matters in the long run is our overall diet–not whether we include one specific food or another. Instead of stuffing yourself with superfoods, focus on broad categories–fruits, veggies, whole grains, fish, legumes–that constitute a healthful diet. When you can choose a variety of foods you like, rather than specific ones you feel compelled to consume, it makes eating far more enjoyable.
We've all seen those ads for gadgets promising to give us rock-hard abs or thinner thighs. Targeted exercises can in fact strengthen muscles in a particular area, but they can't get rid of fat that covers those muscles. How quickly and easily fat disappears depends on where it's located, as well as your age, gender, and genes. But in any case, it requires vigorous, whole body exercise. Unfortunately, you can't spot reduce flab with ab crunches or leg lifts alone.
Likewise, you generally can't reshape your body with moderate exercise. Yet that's sometimes the promise we get from fitness clubs or personal trainers. Certainly, a half-hour a day of walking on a treadmill or riding a bike is highly worthwhile; it can provide an array of benefits from improved heart health to increased energy. But don't expect it to give you a perfectly-sculpted body. Changing your physique requires far more intense, sustained activity.
False promises about exercise create unrealistic expectations that eventually lead to disillusionment. After failing to get the results we're led to expect, we may give up entirely. Don't let that happen to you in 2010. Set reasonable goals–and get going!
How mindful are you? Unless you're a Buddhist, it may sound like a strange question. But being more mindful could be an answer to two health issues high on many people's top-10 list: stress and weight.
Simply put, mindfulness means being aware of what you think and do in response to what's around you. It's the idea behind a technique known as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), which was developed by best-selling author Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. Research has shown that MBSR can help alleviate anxiety, depression, and pain.
MBSR, which is now offered by medical centers around the world, teaches people to live in the moment and become more aware of how they respond to their surroundings. As a result, they can change how they view whatever causes stress, pain, or other negative feelings and thereby achieve greater peace of mind. Typically, training is intensive, requiring eight weekly 2.5-hour classes plus 45 to 60 minutes a day of meditation. For some busy, stressed-out people, the time commitment is, well, too stressful.
A recent study, published in the journal Health Education & Behavior, has found that a scaled-down version of MBSR can be used successfully at workplaces. People who attended weekly one-hour MBSR meetings at lunch and practiced 20 minutes of yoga a day at their desks reported feeling less stress and sleeping better than those in a comparison group who did not participate.
On the heels of that research comes another new study, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, suggesting that mindfulness may also play a role in weight control. Participants (80% of them women) filled out questionnaires asking how often they had reactions such as:
• When a restaurant portion is too large, I stop eating when I'm full.
• I taste every bite of food that I eat.
• I recognize when I'm eating and not hungry.
• When I'm sad, I eat to feel better.
Those who were more mindful about food and eating tended to weigh less. They were also more likely to practice yoga, which the researchers hypothesize may have taught them greater self-awareness.
Food scientist Brian Wansink has written a terrific book, called Mindless Eating, about our lack of mindfulness regarding food and what we can do about it. I highly recommend it. And for more on how greater self-awareness can help control stress, sit back, relax, and watch this video segment.
Stand on a vibrating platform and shed pounds. No exertion required. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, maybe not.
A recently-released study from Belgium looked at the effects of whole body vibrating machines (in this case one known as Power Plate), which are in a growing number of health clubs. The researchers assigned 61 subjects - all of them overweight or obese - to one of four groups: 1) a restricted-calorie diet and no exercise; 2) diet plus a conventional fitness program consisting of activities such as swimming, cycling, and strength training; 3) diet plus vibration training; and 4) no diet, no exercise.
So who were the biggest losers? Believe it or not, the vibration group. After six months, they had lost 11% of their body weight, compared with 7% of the conventional exercisers and 6% in the diet only group. (The control group's weight increased slightly.) After one year, the vibration group had maintained their weight loss more than the others.
The study, presented at a European obesity conference, has not yet been published. But it comes on the heels of published research out of the University of Oklahoma, which found that in older women, resistance training plus whole body vibration decreased body fat more than resistance training alone.
So how can this be? The machines' vibrations of 30 to 50 times per second are thought to trigger the body's reflex response, which causes muscles to contract. But the evidence regarding benefits is still preliminary, and some scientists are concerned about unknown risks.
Even if whole body vibration lives up to the claims, it shouldn't replace regular exercise. Instead, use it as a way to supplement to your routine. As this clip on exercise gadgets for the office reminds us, technology can add some fun and variety to your workout, and as a result, help you stick with it. Now get shaking.